You may remember that comedian and minor TV personality John Hodgman recently wrote a parody of reference books called The Areas of My Expertise, which I reviewed. Hodgman’s dry wit and ability to generate random and sublimely absurd claims made that book funny enough, so when he released his follow-up More Information Than You Require I grabbed it.
In just about every way, More Information is more of the same. Indeed, Hodgman even continues the page numbering from his prior book and claims that more volumes will follow, so that some day you will be able to combine them into some kind of Voltron-like omnibus full of jokes about hobos, mole men, and U.S. presidents with hooks for hands. The problem is, I feel like I’ve seen a lot of this before, and the freshness and absurdity of the first book is pretty worn off. As any carnival freak show owner who has spent too much time in one town will tell you, things get less absurd with repeat viewings. Hodgman even seems to be going back to the exact same well that he used to water his previous books. For example, instead of a list of 700 hobo names like in the first book, in More Information the author uses pretty much the same shtick to provide an exhaustive list of mole men names. And, like with the hobo names, that section is skim-worthy at best.
That’s not to say that the book isn’t funny in places. Hodgman’s dry wit still hits hard on occasion, and I did laugh out loud more than a few times. Most of the jokes are hidden in the footnotes of the text, as well as 365 little dated inserts that he includes so that when you’re done with the book you can use it as a “fact a day” daily calendar.
The problem is that this is all starting to feel a little worn thin at the elbows. I also grew to hate Hodgman’s habit of switching to all capital letters SEEMINGLY AT RANDOM throughout the BOOK, which was funny once or twice, but generally JUST BROKE UP THE FLOW and was ANNOYING. I’d like to see him tackle something in a little different style rather than than what seems to me to be stream of consciousness and joke making that just throws everything against the walls to see what sticks.
Others doing the 52-in-52 thing this week: